Early returns are in for sales of Girl Scout commemorative silver dollars.
By the standards of current issues, the numbers aren’t too bad, but for sure the coin will not reach its 350,000 coin sellout goal.
Sales commenced Feb. 28 and as of March 4 collectors had purchased 29,331 proof coins and 12,293 uncirculated pieces.
Compare these numbers to the 111,224 proof Infantry dollars sold in 2012 and 46,349 uncirculateds and you have to conclude that similar numbers might be racked up by the Girl Scout design.
Last year’s Star-Spangled Banner silver dollar saw 117,459 proofs and 41,678 uncirculateds sold, and this program also featured a $5 gold denomination.
As veteran collectors know, the fate of every program is pretty well determined in just the first few days of sales.
Weekly numbers then go into decline. The only question is how steep the decline will be.
Actuaries like to say demography is destiny. (They are the people who can tell us how overdrawn the Social Security trust fund will be in 2042, or how much my car insurance rate should be.)
Numismatic demography is not kind to a Girl Scout coin. More than 90 percent of potential collector buyers are male. If they buy it, it is more because they want to keep their set of commemoratives complete rather than the coin grabs them in the gut with fond memories of times past.
Sounds selfish, doesn’t it?
But deep down, being a coin collector making purchasing decisions cannot help but being all about each individual and the individual’s personal background and interests.
The Girl Scout leadership hopes that family feelings and support from former Girl Scouts will prompt them to buy the coins even though they aren’t collectors.
That’s a line of reasoning we have heard since the supporters of the first Olympic program in 1983-1984 used it. It didn’t happen then. Instead, they twisted the Mint’s arm to strike PDS proof $10 gold pieces to wring even more money from the collector base. Since that happened, subsequent commemorative legislation limits the number of minting facilities that can strike the commemorative coins.
So, will the Girl Scout proof total reach 100,000 and the uncirculated total 40,000? Those numbers are reachable, but I would not want to bet on this outcome.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."